Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I had a great learning experience Thursday (This posting was Sunday Feb 26). I was invited to speak to a class at USC in Los Angeles called “Music, Television and American Culture” taught by Jon Burlingame. Besides being a noted NY Times and Daily Variety music columnist, Jon is an avid Lloyd Thaxton fan and the proud owner of four Lloyd Thaxton “Dawks” (only an avid fan knows what a “Dawk” is).

The class consisted of between 40 and 50 students 18 to 20 years old. Which means that the oldest was born almost 20 years AFTER the Lloyd Thaxton Show was off the air. Between my reminiscing, screening a few clips from the Show and a short question and answer segment, I managed to take up the entire hour and a half class. After all the things I've done over the years, this was a brand new experience.

It was amazing that the segments I screened were as relevant to these young students as they were to my audience 40 years ago. To them it was completely new and as they laughed and applauded, I had a mental flashback. I was back in the 60s performing in front of the kids who were about to take part in that day’s show. This 2006 classroom seemed no different than being in my studio when the Beach Boys, The Beatles, Jan and Dean, James Brown, and Sonny and Cher ruled (just to name a few).

To get back to the present, I had to take a cue from one of Cher’s most famous movie moments. I figuratively slapped myself on the face and said, “Get over it!”

I have always believed whenever a person finds and follows a career that gives him nothing but pleasure and happiness, that person is truly blessed. I am one of the blessed. And the fact that after 40 years I still have people write to me and thank me for bringing some pleasure, happiness, and laughter into their lives is mind boggling. And, I thank you all so much.

While I was playing the segments I realized, that except for a few close friends and family, I had never shown these clips to anyone since they were first presented on the show. It was eerily akin to a time capsule that had just been opened after 40 years.

During the Q & A, several students said, “When I graduate, I hope I get a job where I have as much fun as you.” I said that I hope so too. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

I closed the presentation with a clip of the Turtles singing

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again
Some sunny day

And we did meet again. On a sunny day - 40 years later.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


I get such a big thrill when I read the many comments from all you “Mousers.” I try to answer as many as I can. Don’t get discouraged if I seem to disappear every now and then. I’m writing another book, laying out my DVD, and working on a couple of other exciting things to be revealed later. When they happen you will be the first to know.

The following story gets challenged just about every time I tell it. I thought of it again after watching this year’s Grammy Awards Show (That’s 2006 in case you are reading this 30 or 40 years from now).

Whenever I do a radio, TV or press interview, one question always comes up. “Lloyd, what person and song do you consider had the most impact on rock and roll?” And, my answer is always a surprise. “Chubby Checker and The Twist.”

This year’s Grammy Awards show reminded me once again of this question. If that answer is true, why don’t we ever see Chubby Checker?

Chubby made record industry history back in 1962 when his original 1959 hit record, “The Twist,” re-entered the charts in 1961 and by January of 1962, was back in the #1 position. Chubby Checker is the only artist to have a song be number one -- TWICE.

1962 was also number one for me. That was the year The Lloyd Thaxton Show made its debut. A few weeks before my first show, I was invited to attend a performance featuring this new sensation Chubby Checker. He was performing at the Crescendo nightclub in Hollywood and it was truly a night to remember.

The minute Chubby started singing “The Twist,” everyone in the totally packed audience jumped up and started dancing on top of the tables. I had never seen anything like that before (or since) in my life. It was surreal. But here is the most unbelievable part: There wasn’t one teen-ager in the joint.

A good rock band or singer can drive just about any audience to frenzy. But what I was witnessing here was truly a first; Adults dancing wildly to teen-age music – in public. With one song Chubby Checker had introduced adults to the pleasures of Rock and Roll. Almost overnight the famous Pepperment Twist Lounge opened in New York City. Hollywood’s Pepperment West opened soon after. Pepperment Lounge wanabes started opening all over the country. This, rock fans, was the birth of the “Discothèque.” The music scene was changed forever. Rock and Roll no longer belonged just to Teens.

And, a completely new way of dancing was born: “Dancing apart to the beat.” Think about it. When was the first time you saw your parents attempt to dance the twist? I’m sure you couldn’t stop laughing. Actually it was kind of embarrassing, right?

I give credit to Chubby Checker and “The Twist” for the success of The Lloyd Thaxton Show. Adults, who were just starting to go out to the various dance spots, started watching the show to learn how to do this popular new dance. With the combination of my teen audience plus all those new adult fans, the show’s ratings went through the ceiling. I owe Chubby Checker. He kick-started my career and a lot of others.

His success led to other dance phenomena as "The Jerk", "The Hully Gully", "The Mash Potato," "The Swim,” and many more. And, opened the door for the Beatles to just slide right in behind. The rest, as they say, is history. People of all ages went out dancing again. Only this time, they were “Dancing apart to the beat.”

Back to the Grammy Awards Show; I certainly enjoyed seeing Paul McCartney, Sly Stone, and all the other artists and groups who got their start and fame in the 60s. But I missed Chubby Checker. How about next year, Grammy folks? Don’t wait until he isn’t around any more and give him one of those too-late posthumous awards. Give him his credit now.

And while we’re on the subject: how about that Rock and Roll hall of Fame?

Come on Baby. Let’s do the Twist.

Friday, February 03, 2006


It’s one of those cool rockin’rollin’ afternoons in the 60’s. This day’s episode of The Lloyd Thaxton Show is about to end. My teen-aged guests gather around as I start the standard sign-off, “The name of the show is The Lloyd Thaxton Show and my name is Lloyd Thaxton.” Right on cue everybody in the studio shouts, “SO WHAT!”

Fast-forward 30-something years to an elevator at NBC Television in Burbank, California. I’m on my way up to my “Fight Back! With David Horowitz” office. A man, who would most likely call himself a Baby Boomer, looks over at me and says, “You’re Lloyd Thaxton, right?” When I answer yes, he says, “How does it feel to be a has-been?”


Everyone in the elevator freezes. All eyes, that aren’t locked on the floor, embarrassingly turn to me. But it was all sighs and smiles when I quickly answer, “Better than being a never-been.” Comments from the packed elevator ranged from, “Boy, that was really telling him,” to “Are you really Lloyd Thaxton?” to “Who the hell is Lloyd Thaxton?”

True, it was a dumb question, however, it got me thinking. Was I really a “has-been?” And, if I was, how DID it feel? Never thought about it before, but here I was … thinking about it.

I had a popular TV show in the 60’s, but the show went off the air almost four decades ago (when you start counting in decades you know you’re in trouble). It was difficult for me to admit that some of the people in the elevator that day weren’t even born when the show was on the air. And what was worse, they looked old. So, by the strictest meaning of the word, I guess I am a has-been.

BUT, on the other hand, is that bad? Think about it. To be a “has-been” means you had to have been a “been” at some time in your life. And a “been” is what? A “been” is somebody who at one time, perhaps last week or even last year, was famous ... a celebrity… at least for a while anyway. More than 15 minutes, I would think. Is this better than being a never-been, as I so confidently answered in that elevator? Maybe that old fart asked the wrong question. It should have been, “What does it feel like to be a “BEEN?”

It’s just a matter of semantics. Let’s face it, I, at one time, was truly a popular “been.” Only a hermit wants to be a complete nobody. No one, at least no one I ever met, wants to go through life as a “never-been.”

The legendary comic Rodney Dangerfield’s tag line “I just don’t get no respect” sums it up. Everybody from the guy on the street with the sign, “I’ll work for food,” to the CEO of a large corporation wants a little respect. A little fame, if you will. At least “Fifteen minutes” worth as Andy Warhol put it.

Many of us have been “beens” at one time and should be proud of it. The employee of the week, the prom queen, the football hero, the high-school graduate, you are all “beens” and should hold your heads high. Celebrate your "been-ness" and be good examples for your peers.

Here’s how I look at it. I was damned lucky. I had much more than my 15 minutes of fame. And, to me, it was PERFECT. While it lasted it was wonderful, exciting and exhilarating. Who could ever imagine four decades later (there I go again, counting in decades), there would be fans still out there?

So Mousers, how DOES it feel to be a “BEEN?”

To be continued …